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Privacy vs the state

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The charge against it is particularly grave in the light of a Supreme Court ruling in 2017 that drew upon our rights to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution to classify privacy as a derivative fundamental right

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India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the setting up of a committee of experts, whom it named, to investigate allegations against the government of using Pegasus spyware to snoop on citizens, politicians, journalists and others. After the scandal broke, the Centre had cited security concerns for its refusal to divulge whether or not it had deployed the software. “Of course, [the government] may decline to provide information when constitutional considerations exist... This does not mean that the state gets a free pass every time the spectre of ‘national security’ is raised," said the apex court.

The alleged list of Pegasus targets that surfaced looked suspiciously political in design, and the Centre’s explanation was wishy-washy. The charge against it is particularly grave in the light of a Supreme Court ruling in 2017 that drew upon our rights to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution to classify privacy as a derivative fundamental right. It’s well appreciated that the state needs to have threats under a scanner, for which espionage tools are needed. But, as with other basic rights, only a properly agreed-upon process should allow any abridgements

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